The only way is up…..

This week we went over to old Yardleians RFC for our first game of the season. Even though the school holidays were looming we had a great turn out with 13 players attending. The first game started well with old Yard’s kicking to us. Charlie caught the ball from the kick and set up the first ruck. We cleared out well and a good pass from Grace sent Rayne hurtling down the right-hand wing. Old Yard’s could not deal with the raw pace of the Veseyan flyer and the only way to bring him down was a high tackle which led to the first penalty. Tom took the quick tap and fed Max who made five good meters up the middle, Tom cleared the ruck and Jude picked up the ball and passed to Sean who cantered over in the corner, great start, and great try.

Old Yard’s again kicked to us, but the ball fell short and was re-gathered by the home team, Sean had sensed the short kick and seem to come from nowhere to smash the Yardleian player backwards in the tackle Tom again cleared the ruck and Jess found the pass to Grace who set off down the right-hand side, a good tackle knocked the ball loose and yards set up a scrum on the half way line. A good scrum saw the home team ship the ball wide and attack up their right wing, good tackles from Max and Jude stopped the initial attack but Yards spread the ball left and scored after two good passes. Charlie kicked to the home team and the rush defense from the Veseyans caused a knock on and a scrum just past half way. With Sean in the ten position the game restarted, two wonderful side steps later Sean had fed Jude who seemed to carry most of the home team over the line with him, a well-worked try that came from great hustle in defence.

The home team kicked off but seemed to be napping as Rayne caught the kick ran around the sleeping defence, (probably three times) and scored in the left-hand corner, fantastic solo try from the speedster. At three try’s to one the half-time whistle was blown. Veseyans changed two players with James and Matthew replacing Max and Sean. We started the second half well with a great run from Jess through the middle of the defence, James supported well and took the offload a few more meters before being tackled short of the half way line.

Charlie then cleared the ruck with the ferocity of an angry bear and Matthew fed Rayne from the 9 position who made 20 meters up the right-hand side before a good home defence managed to get him into touch. The Home team came back strong and scored after two phases again going right then left and using the space. The teams were well matched with numerous rucks and mauls going either way before another devastating tackle from Jude changed the tide, James cleared the ruck and Matthew again fed Jess who then put Rayne into space on the left, he rounded the last defender to score our fourth try.

With only a few minutes left we thought the game was done and dusted. The kick off again went short but this time the home team re-gathered and a lucky bounce meant they scored their third try. Another slight mistake from a Veseyans scrum meant the ball popped out the home teams side and again they pounced first to level the score within 2 minutes of the final whistle. With a change of tactics for the final phase of play we decided to allow the home team to kick to us after scoring with the thought of catching the ball finding the space and scoring out wide. Unfortunately the kick fell short, was re-gathered by Yard’s and although a fantastic double tackle from Rayne and Tom stopped the initial attack the resulting ruck was quickly cleared and the home team went wide to the left, the covering tackle by Matthew was heroic and it seemed to most that the attacking player had knocked the ball on in the act of try scoring.

The referee gave the score and blew the full-time whistle. A very unlucky loss five try’s to four, but the manner in which we played that first game was exceptional and everyone should be proud of the efforts. Our second game saw the return of our team who had been helping out the under tens. Jo, Jacob,  and Joseph all came back while Grace, Sean and Matthew went over to the tens. Much love goes out to these guys for stepping up to help the club out, it’s not easy playing in a different team so these guys deserve a huge thank you. The game started much the same way with cannon ball stopping tackles from Jude and Max, tank clearing rucking from Charlie and Tom, precision and poise from Joseph and Jess and unrivaled support from Jo and Jacob. The home team got the bounce of the ball in the first half and scored two quick tries despite excellent tackling hustle from Max and Tom.

The next Veseyan attack came from a turn over headed by Joseph Hurd’s rucking expertise, taking out two men allowed Jo to pick from the base and feed Rayne who again stepped the last defender to score our first try. With tiredness setting in our defence started to take the heat and again another good attack from the home resulted in a try. Tom kicked off and Charlie followed with grit and determination to make the first tackle, Jess picked at the base and found Jacob on his debut who was getting more involved as the game went on. The attack came to a halt a few phases later when we got ushered into touch and was again caught napping by a home team quick tap and they scored from the resulting phase. A late fight back saw Jude chase down the kick off from Charlie and the home team attacker could do nothing but take the onslaught that followed.

A great team effort turning defence into attack saw Rayne finish the move off in the corner. Although we narrowly lost both games the effort and commitment from the team was outstanding. I was a very proud coach watching today, and although we have a few things to work on I believe we have a great foundation to move on up through the season. Every single player represented our club flawlessly with the respect and attitude some teams can only dream of.

Well done all.

Stan Checkett U11’s Coach